An early bit of Christmas nostalgia

Back in the age of dinosaurs when I was a pre-teen, my parents built a log cabin on a lake in BC’s back woods. Dad and the only other person living on the lake, a trapper, cut the trees on the site and managed to maneuver them into place while mom and I did our part by peeling off the bark.

(Clicking on any photo will enlarge it for a closer look.)

My dad was a masonry contractor who had built two homes in Vancouver, but this was unlike those city houses. It was primitive accommodation – just one tiny room, initially with a dirt floor, a front window salvaged from a Vancouver streetcar and small windows in two of the other walls. The roof was finished with a multi-hued assortment of leftover shingles.

New citified luxury – a light below the old cabinets, usable only when the generator is operating.

Sixty years later, all that remains of that cabin is a shell. A small set of sturdy cupboards, handmade by a family friend, was rescued out of it several years ago, along with the original yellow-print cotton curtains that served to cover lower shelves. My son re-installed both in our own little cabin and we continue to use them in a more comfortable albeit very rustic setting.

Last Christmas I received an unusual and precious Christmas gift from my husband. He had salvaged a damaged piece of donnacona from the old cabin and framed it for me. It bears my dad’s block printing: “This cabin belongs to John McGuire…” and a series of updated addresses and telephone numbers.

I was reminded of this when Laura Best asked in her post yesterday, “What is the most unorthodox gift you ever received?” I think my framed piece of donnacona qualifies. It has no monetary value at all, but it was given and received in love, and to me it’s priceless. As I begin to think of Christmas 2012 and what gifts might be bought or made, I recall a quotation from Mother Teresa: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

The Christ child whose birthday we will celebrate next month was born so that he could die for us. The ultimate gift of love.

“But God has shown us how much he loves us—
it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!”

Romans 5:8 [GNT]

The old cabin as it looked last Friday.

Christmas… that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”

[Augusta E. Rundel]


I think it would be interesting to keep Laura’s question going, so…
“What is the most unorthodox gift you ever received?”

~  ~  ~

14 thoughts on “An early bit of Christmas nostalgia

  1. Judith Robl says:

    What a precious gift!

    It may not be “unorthodox” but the most precious gift I ever received was a scrapbook from my godfather on my twelfth birthday. It’s been a part of my life for more than sixty-one years. It has become my “second Bible.” It is mostly scripture restated and illustrated so that a child can understand.

    Mark 10:15
    Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

  2. Katt says:

    Oh my goodness, the last picture….that looks like snow! ha ha!!! I know where have I been? How can it possibly be that time of year!——Time is spinning out of control??? It’s now NOVEMBER. My girlfriend has been here visiting this week, and she loves to shop. So as we’ve strolled through the stores I was “surprised” at all the Christmas music, and decorations. What happened to July?
    I love this blog post—-and what a precious reminder from Mother Teresa “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
    And the sign you have that has your Father’s handwriting is priceless.
    I’m not sure about the “unorthodox gift” I’ve received, but I love that thought.
    And again, your pictures are breathtaking…..and a gift!

  3. Erica Vetsch says:

    What lovely memories. 🙂

  4. Deb says:

    My gosh. Loved reading every word of this post. What a wonderful piece of your families history and that gift your husband gave really is priceless. That’s for sharing… Now off to stare some more at that beautiful little cabin.

  5. joylene says:

    Wow, if that’s not reason to tear up, I sure don’t know what would be. So you were once Carol McGuire, eh? Carol McGuire Garvin… nice.

  6. Carol says:

    Thanks, everyone, for stopping in to share my memories and to comment.

    Judith, that scrapbook is a real treasure, too. What a thoughtful gift!

    Katt, yes, that’s snow. It was blowing fine snow that day. Didn’t accumulate much but made for some wonderful photo opps. It was -8 degrees (celsius).

    Erica, thanks for visiting today. Yes, the memories are very special to me.

    Deb, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. The cabin is going to deteriorate right into the ground one day, but right now it’s still picturesque. Its demise was preceded by the collapse of an even older log building nearby. I documented it in this post last year.

    Joylene, yes in my former life I was an Irish McGuire. 🙂

  7. Ella says:

    I found you through Joylene! Beautiful post and sentiment~ I love gifts that tug at our heart strings and make our memories sing! It wasn’t a Christmas gift, but my son and Mother went to my favorite shore and picked up mussel shells five that had a curve on the left and five that had a cure on the right. They stacked them and arranged them for me, in the shape of a heart! I treasure these shells and have them on a nightstand, by my bed. I grew up by the Penobscot Bay, it is where heaven hugs the sea and kisses the shore. It is where my heart resides, even though I no longer live there(military spouse). Nice to meet you~ 😀

  8. J.Q. Rose says:

    Lovely and thoughtful gift from your husband. Very special. I think receiving a gift when it isn’t a special occasion is the best gift, unexpected and sealed with love. (I’m so glad Joylene wrote about you in her blogfest post. Nice to meet ya’.)

  9. Carol says:

    I’m pleased to meet both of you, Ella and Janet. Thanks so much for taking the time to pop over here and say hello.

    Ella, your heart-shaped gift of mussels was unusual but obviously very thoughtfully chosen for someone who loves the shore. I’ve never been to Maine, but it sounds like a wonderful place.

    Janet, I agree… receiving a gift out of the blue for no reason at all is very special. 🙂

  10. Robyn Engel says:

    I’m here thanks to Joylene. You have a lovely blog, Carol. It’s nice to meet you. Enjoy the holidays.

  11. Laura Best says:

    Thanks for posting this, Carol. I was interested in reading more when you made the comment about it on my blog.. These kind of gifts mean the most. They’re one of a kind and close to the heart. I one of a kind love gifts that. You are very fortunate. 🙂

  12. The most unorthodox gift I received was from my Heavenly Father during the Christmas season – the vision for my first manuscript.

  13. Carol says:

    Laura, the bag of potatoes you mentioned on your blog was definitely one-of-a-kind, and it had significance because of the interaction with your son. He was listening!

    Susan, I’ve always believed creativeness and all inspiration come from God, but something that specific was a wonderful and personal gift indeed!

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